Garcia: But I feel like I want to say that it's important that women should be able to embrace being sexual. Not just romantic, but sexual. With the camera, with their vision. We're talking about the male gaze. That's obviously a significant idea that I think theoretically
we're all sort of playing with. But, like, what's the female gaze? If there is something that's kind of similarly carnal, there's no reason to shy away from that. I mean, the answer is not to go to sort of an asexual vision.
Foner: No. But I can't remember where we've seen the female gaze, which is what I want to do.
We've talked about your work and about Hollywood. I want to talk a little about the audience. Because the audience does play a role in this. And women drive genre films. I mean, the slasher movies where women are getting, you know, raped and cut up to pieces, 70 percent of the audience is women. Women are buying Cosmopolitan, fitness magazines, with these artificially beautiful women on the cover. So does the audience have a role in deciding whether or not the kinds of movies you want to make are accepted, or have they been conditioned to accept—you know, is there some sort of larger cultural hegemony that is saying, "You have to like these kinds of movies and this is what you should embrace"? In other words, does the audience play a role in helping people like you make the movies you want to make?
Foner: I don't think they've been given a choice before. I don't think there's been anything out there. That's exactly the point that I was hoping to fix, you know, by becoming a director. I don't think there's an alternative. My friend Jamie Lee Curtis did a cover on Allure Magazine, in which she said, "This is me after I've been touched up and made up and done this, and this is me before. I look just like you." And I thought that was one of the bravest things I've ever seen. And really to an end. And I think some version of just having real women doing real things the way they actually experience them will counter that. You know, my movie's a first movie. It's far from a masterpiece. It's a beginner's movie in many ways. But what I'm proud of is that when we screen it for people, they have a "Oh, yeah. That's me" kind of attachment to it, which is exactly what I was hoping for.
Fidell: Across gender lines?
Foner: No. Women.
Fidell: Oh, women. I'm sorry. Yeah.
Foner:Women. And in fact, in some ways men are, as I described to you, somewhat a little bit offended by some of it. You know, there are things about it that they're surprised by. 'Cause they're not used to seeing. It's not in any way revolutionary or radical. It's very small and very simple. But it has—if it works at all—a certain truthfulness about the experience of being a woman. Which I collaborated on with the actresses. And that touches women watching it.
Anybody else want to talk about the audience and its responsibility? Go ahead, Hannah.
Fidell:So far I've had a pretty divisive audience reaction, where men and women see the film very differently. Men have a very hard time relating to my film, in the way that I had intended. But they still get something out of it because it speaks to their hot-for-teacher fantasy. So, that's fine. They can get whatever they want out of it. But it's interesting. I have yet to hear or read a negative thing about my film from a woman. Which is interesting.
But men have?
Garcia:Yeah. For me too.
Really, Liz? Whatever problems they have with "The Lifeguard," it's—
Garcia: Yeah, just the scant, very rare bad review, it's been from a dude.
Same way for you?
Dabis: Well, funny enough, I do get men who actually really love the film. But I think that generally it's seen as more relatable to women.